Tag Archives: Jung

Chuck’s Place: Holy Shit!

The nigredo…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We meet the animal that we are in the bathroom. Despite the soft, white, scented Charmin’ tissue paper that we wipe ourselves with, what leaves our bodies is stinky, sticky and dark, the color and texture of muddy earth.

C. G. Jung suggested that the bathroom is the room where we most encounter our instinctual selves, thus it is equated symbolically with the collective unconscious. The day I read Jung’s reflections on this specific subject, a client, who has graciously agreed to allow me to share it, had the following interaction with me:

Me: “So, have you had any dreams?”

Client: “Funny you should ask, I had a disgusting dream that I’m not going to tell you” (and then she did).

Here is a summary of the dream:  “I’m in a red-neck setting, one I’d never be in. I’m hidden under a tree. I’m on my side looking at people. Suddenly and uncontrollably I take a long, foamy bowel movement. I’m extremely embarrassed. I move away, afraid they’ll find out it was from me. I decide to go back to cover it over but can’t find it.”

As we reflected on the dream we came to understand that the client was attempting to get away from something deeply uncomfortable, hidden in the shadow of the self, something “behind her,” a fact she’d much rather keep “flushed away” from herself. Her instinctual dream would not let her get away with this however.

We unearthed the disowned fact, which reached back decades into childhood. The shit became a pearl and opened the door to address and shift a lifelong source of shame.

Jung pointed out that the alchemists considered excrement to be a prima materia from which gold could eventually be extracted. They called this stage in their experimental operations the nigredo.

In these modern times, humanity identifies itself as a rational mind, a fast acting logical computer that I would call a spirit self. In our times, spirit has withdrawn from the heavens and been reframed as the mental place, the thinking brain. Spirit humans hardly see themselves as animals governed by bodily dictates.

In our dream, the instinctual self teaches the spirit/mental self, that avoids earthy red-neck environments, that the gold lies in that which is most rejected and avoided in the self.

Everyone has had dreams of public toilets without doors or of defecating uncontrollably in public places. These dreams are really about our deepest nature attempting to draw our attention to that which we are most afraid to expose ourselves or others to, and yet, like the diamond that emerges from the blackest coal, these dreams really should be treated as holy shit.

If we allow ourselves to own the shit, refusing to be shut down by shame or embarrassment, we disarm our emotional defenses and free ourselves to become more human and to discover the most valuable pearls of wisdom from the refuse of our own bodies.

Gotta go, nature calls!

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Sweat Lodge of Self

It’s Tuesday morning as I write this blog. The verse my soul brings me is a line from Leonard Cohen’s march,* “Democracy is coming to the USA.” This is not the seed my ego would choose to plant in this blog, but, as Leonard also once sang, “If it be your will.” And so, I acquiesce.

Looking forward to unification of earth & state…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Equally disturbing is the ruthless perseverance of American Express, incessantly invading the landline of our sanctuary on the hill with its myriad of tricksterish schemes to hook our energy. In fact, it led to a small spat between Jan and I at breakfast as to the best strategy to swat down that mosquito pest. I got angry at her ‘foolishness,’ picking up the phone and instantly hanging up. Her energy, as I saw it, hooked by the game, totally overlooking of course how my own heated reactive anger was perhaps doubly hooked!

Of course, it’s not lost on me the synchronicity of the heated energy of Leonard’s USA march and American Express’s steamroller tactics. America is at the center of our heated-up world right now, be it socially, politically, economically, or environmentally. In fact, our entire world is now a hot cauldron, an alchemical sweat lodge portending great transformation.

In a letter dated September 25, 1946, C. G. Jung writes to a colleague in New York: “…One could say that the whole world with its turmoil and misery is in an individuation process. But people don’t know it, that’s the only difference. If they knew it, they would not be at war with each other, because whosoever has the war inside himself has no time and pleasure to fight others. Individuation is by no means a rare thing or a luxury of the few, but those who know that they are in such a process are considered to be lucky. They get something out of it, provided they are conscious enough. Of course it is a question whether you can stand such a procedure. But this is the question with life too…”**

Jung wrote this letter shortly after World War II, clearly with the hope that the world could introvert—contain and seal off its warring elements within the individual—whereby creating the sweat lodge of self to advance corporeal humans to experience and unite within living form their latent spiritual, energetic self.

This is the goal of all life—individuation—to advance into and incorporate its wholeness, most especially to find and reconnect with its energetic self that lives and reigns in the life of the physical body.

Don Juan Matus maintained that the survival of our world dream required humankind to discover and bring its energy body into life. Both Jung and don Juan passed on their individual methods, psychotherapy and shamanism respectively, to avert world destruction, but were each equally guarded in their prognoses.

And so the world heats up once again, on many levels, with the deeper intent of evolutionary advance at its center. The earth has become the sweat lodge of this deeply transformative process. But you know, we are the world.

And so, back to the sweat lodge at our Tuesday morning breakfast table. The warring elements that manifest in the opposites of man and woman, spirit and material, naturally seek to trump each other. In our case, the fiery energies were maturely contained as breakfast was consumed on the Holy Grail plates, the projections burned off within, the projected elements—the wrong/bad other—introverted, sealed off within the sweat lodge of the self.

In the process, as the emotional distortions burned off, energy body self emerged with its 360° perspective. All sides are relevant and acceptable from this all-round perspective, all fit neatly together.

American Express is merely part of the catalyst of now, challenging us to find within us the place of no pity, the place of compassionate detachment and love, and with it the energy body of our potential self.

Don’t leave home without it,

Chuck

*Quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Democracy.”

**Quote from C. G. Jung Letters Volume 1: 1906-1950, p. 442

Chuck’s Place: Living In & Out of Time

A young child dreams of seven white geese marching down a street. All the people the geese walk past fall down dead. Surprisingly, C. G. Jung suggests that this is a favorable dream, that this is nature, via the dream, introducing the young child to the world of time. Everything passes. To the child’s world of timelessness, still bathed in the myths and depths of the collective unconscious, life and death are introduced, including her own awareness of herself as a mortal being in this world.

Day and night, time and timelessness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Life in this world is a bipolar affair. We all grapple with it. At one pole we feel our link to the timeless, as we often live as if we have forever! Though we may negatively judge this ‘slothful’ attitude, it nonetheless is a link to  infinite life in timelessness, as an energy body or spirit. At the other pole is the truth of aging and mortality in a physical body, observed and experienced in fading life within and all around us.

At the beginning of every day the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say: “We are beings who are going to die.” This is their intent to keep their awareness fully present to their limited time and opportunity for life in this world. We are all beings saddled with the bipolar conundrum of life and death.

What Jung highlighted in this young child’s fall from innocence was the introduction of change, which happens when we enter life in time. Everything passes in time. Accepting this basic truth helps us to feel and release a wave of sadness. The pain of loss will eventually pass. In the world of time things mature and change and new possibilities for life will arise.

If we are gripped by a craving or passion, we know, if we hold on, that the compulsion will eventually pass. We may not be ready yet, we may still be too attached to the timeless pole of our being that accepts no limitations, but eventually we may be ready to inhabit our corporeal reality and accept the limitations of life in the body.

The great advantage of life in time, in a physical body, is that we are freed to complete our unique experience of life, what Jung called individuation. In time we unfold into the discovery and fulfillment of all that we are. We begin new things, be they careers, relationships, gardens, or books. We can nurture and live the course of these engagements to completion because in time, for better of worse, everything passes.

In time we can answer the questions of our ancestors and pose new ones for ourselves. To fully individuate in our life in time we must recapitulate. If we leave fragments of our lives unknown to ourselves we will not be able to integrate the full knowledge of our journey and we will leave behind questions that must be answered before completion. Perhaps this is the basis for reincarnation, bardo life, or time in purgatory.

My wife Jan lived in Sweden for several years during her twenties. She always felt she went there to fulfill something unfinished in a past life, to connect with and live out unfinished business with people who had once been very important to her. She was welcomed there with open arms, loved unconditionally, and she loved fully and unconditionally in return. She fully embraced being Swedish, learned the language quickly and fluidly, and did all things Swedish like a true Swede. When it was done, it was done. Time to move on and return to life in present time.

Into infinity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first wife, Jeanne, also completed unfinished business, though she did it in spirit form, after her physical death, reconnecting with the birth mother she never knew in her life as Jeanne Ketchel. It was the completion of her lives on earth, her final chapter in space and time, described in the final chapter of The Book of Us, channeled through Jan.

For although everything does pass in time, that which is not fully realized must be completed somewhere, somehow before we are fully freed to move on in timelessness. As everything passes, as we complete our many paths of individuation, we enter infinity, enriched by our lives and ready to explore new paths of heart, in and out of time.

Finding the timeless in time,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Not So Bad

Suffered with a backache for most of last week. Must have done something “wrong.” Finally had enough, reached out with a clear intent: May the healers come tonight and heal my back.

Had the kind of sleep where you wake up convinced you haven’t slept. Jan assures me that I definitely slept. I choose not to ask her how she knows for sure.

Walking all night long…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

All night I found myself with Dr. Yang, the surgeon intern on Grey’s Anatomy played by Sandra Oh. She is belligerently and steadfastly determined to stack her own unique pile of practices, like chapters of a book, as an alternative to the required purchase of health insurance. All night we walk briskly along the shoreline of ocean beaches, miles of beaches, in what feels like a doggedly active, sleepless night, as she builds her chapters.

I open my eyes at 4:30 am. Time to wake up. My awakening ego consciousness is deeply disappointed by my restless night. I’m immediately drawn to judge my activities of the day before as the culprit for my lack of deep rejuvenating sleep. My thoughts evoke negative feelings. I must have done something “wrong.”

I’m reminded of a workshop I once attended, led by Carol Tiggs, the Nagual woman, Carlos Castaneda’s counterpart. It was she who left with don Juan’s party of sorcerers as they “burned from within,” as they left this world to embark on their definitive journey in infinity, life beyond the human form. Only in Carol’s case, she returned to human form ten years later and became the spark for Carlos’ coming out party in the birth of Tensegrity.

At this workshop, Carol went on hilariously talking about “Bobby the Flyer,” the being she characterized as filling her mind with negative thoughts about herself. She even broke into a song about just how bad she was. Bobby became a playful name for that character in all of humanity that commandeers the mind to fixate upon and be tormented by its human inadequacies.

Yesterday, Jan and I were reading a lecture Carl Jung gave in 1936 on children’s dreams where he amplified the meaning of a child in a stable. Of course, a major archetypal representation of this is Christ’s birth. Jung pointed out the significance of being born as an animal, in a stable. Why would a “god” incarnate thusly?

Jung suggested that the stable archetype offers support to the lowly human animal to appreciate its animal instinctive self. We hold ourselves to such high spiritual and moral perfectionist standards that take us away from truly appreciating and accepting the instinctual, physical animal that we really are. Perhaps this is the original sin that gives fertile ground to Bobby the flyer. As soon as we switch from body to consciousness, or spirit self, all we see are our human animal failings.

As I sat in bed observing Bobby doing his “I’m so bad” thing, I suddenly realized that my back didn’t hurt so much and then I remembered the intent I had set before sleep and the dream of walking all night. Could it be possible that my back had actually healed? Could that endless walking on the beach with the anima healing surgeon have been the realization of my very clear intent to heal?

I very gently set my feet onto the floor, stood up straight, and walked a few steps. Pain completely gone!

“Sorry Bobby,” I thought, “guess I’m really not so bad after all!”

Chuck

A Link to the Timeless

I had the good fortune of a brief, private audience with Laurens Van der Post back in the 1970s. I asked him whether Jung really meant that what an individual resolved within themselves could indeed radically change the world. He replied, “that was Jung’s absolute conviction.”

In this time, where so much energy is drawn outwardly to the decisions of rulers overpowering our destiny, I pass on links to Laurens Van der Post’s three-part series on Jung’s contribution to our time, which captures the inner path to change. I am indebted to a young man for his research in finding the links to these valuable films which have been lost to me for decades.

Here are the links, the films are approximately 30 minutes each:

#1 In Search of the Soul

#2 67,000 Dreams

#3 The Mystery That Heals

March on consciousness!

Chuck